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Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 1,763
So I live in an HOA and have no shop in which to work on my project, so I found a reputable hotrod shop that specializes in ‘47-‘53 Chevy trucks. There were 4-5 such trucks in various stages of being being built when I visited the shop, and I observed good work. One of the trucks was being hurriedly finished so it could make the Mecham auction, their second truck there. I met one of the owners and found him low-key, straight forward, and seemed honest. I told him what I wanted done to my ‘51 patina half ton and got his opinion on several items I was on the fence about. After our hour long discussion I asked him to give me an estimate of what it would cost me. I waited a couple of weeks and finally received his email bid which included the following:

Mustang II front end w/ power steering
4-link rear suspension
Used 5.3 LS engine & new harness
Complete new wiring harness
Used 4L70-E transmission
Used rear axle
New Vintage Air a/c
Chrome tilt steering wheel w/ col. shifter
New floor
New Torque Thrust wheels
New tires
New gauges
New remote gas tank
New glass

No paint
No upholstery

I was pretty shocked and have not responded. I’ve tried to justify his price by telling myself that I’ve got no place to do it myself, that I’m not capable of doing it myself, that I’m not getting any younger and if I want to enjoy it for a few years that I should do it now, and that the prices of Chevy AD streetrod trucks have gone through the roof and that I could sell it and easily get my money back. At the end of the day I still think the price is outrageous. I never asked his shop rate, but I’m guessing it’s $75 per hour. I told him from the get go that I wasn’t wanting to spend a fortune to build a show truck, and that I only wanted the basics done, and I could work on the finishing touches myself, like installing a new wooden bed and dressing out the interior.
I’d like to hear comments from others, pro or con.


Last edited by Spotbiltxo; Fri Sep 03 2021 04:29 AM.

1950 Chevy 1/2 ton (all original)
1951 Chevy 1/2 ton (future streetrod)
1941 Chevy coupe
1938 Chevy coupe streetrod
Joined: Feb 2004
Posts: 25,653
Kettle Custodian (pot stirrer)
Take a small percentage of that estimate and rent some shop space. Do a little at a time while keeping the truck in driving condition for as long as possible. For that price, I'd expect the job to include a "crate" engine and rebuilt components for the rest of the drive train. Otherwise, invest in a BIG tub of Vaseline!

"It is better to be silent and be thought a fool than to speak and eliminate all doubt!"
Abraham Lincoln

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There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.
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Love your enemies and drive 'em nuts!
Joined: Dec 2014
Posts: 831
The guy is giving you a bargain. With today's prices you can't do it yourself for $30,000. I did all my own work on my truck and still spent $18,000 just in parts - and my build doesn't sound half as ambitious as yours (ie no LS, AC, 4-link, new glass, new floors, or fancy wheels). Jump on it before he changes his mind.

1951 Chevy Panel Truck
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 11,454
Grease Monkey, Moderator General Truck Talk & Greasy Spoon and HiPo Forum
His quote is within the accepted range for what is listed. Retail price on parts alone is in the $13000 to $16000 price range. Couple hundred shop hours and your right on the estimated $30000 mark. Understand he is not going to shop around for a bargain LS and computer. He is going to pay up for a known good unit. Same with the rear end and transmission. If he sends you home with junk his reputation is shot in the hotrod community. If you can’t/won’t do the work yourself you have to open your wallet and dig deep. Your situation with HOA’s is the same problem facing thousands of home mechanics wanting to maintain or build their dreams in their driveways or home shops. My little City has specific ordinances on the books prohibiting working on your vehicle in the street in front of your house or parking on your lawn. Some HOA’s are even stricter.
Good luck with which ever way you choose.

'62 Chevy C-10 Stepside Shortbed (Restomod in progress)
'47 Chevy 3100 5 Window (long term project)
‘65 Chevy Biscayne 4dr 230 I-6 one owner (I’m #2) “Emily”
‘39 Dodge Businessmans Coupe “Clarence”

"I fought the law and the law won" now I are a retired one!
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Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 1,127
Not a bargain, but not a rip off either. I'd say he's in the ballpark with that figure. JMO.

1955.2 3100 Truck

The older I get the more dangerous I am!!!!!
Joined: Feb 2000
Posts: 4,592
I spent just over $13K back in 2000 on my '37. That was total cost including paint, I kept track of everything. I did all the work over four years. With labor rates what they are today, $30K is cheap. Have you priced out an drivetrain?

I do side jobs at home, mostly build engines, carburetors, distributors, stuff that fits in the corner, my labor rate is $100 hours for the first hour, anymore time depends on how hard I have to work. I just finished rebuilding a '70 GTO Judge rear axle. Customer supplied all the parts, it still cost him $150 for me to clean, inspect, and install all the parts. He has over $700 in it and it's not painted yet! I have over 8 hours of work in it, I do it for the fun of it. Labor costs money!

Last edited by Joe H; Fri Sep 03 2021 02:30 PM.
Joined: May 2020
Posts: 24
Sounds about right to have it done by a reputable shop.

I got similar quotes a few years ago for a project I was working on. Decided to try and get it done on the cheap - sourced my own engine, trans, chassis, wiring. I hauled parts and the vehicle around to different shops here and there for different stages of the build depending on where I could get a deal. I didn't end up saving all that much money and had about two years of frustration getting it done.

Last edited by Beetroot; Fri Sep 03 2021 04:55 PM.
Joined: Jul 2000
Posts: 1,792
Some things I would consider...

What will it be worth when it's done? You might not get back all you invested, but think about the depreciation an taxes on a new truck.

You are investing in a local business providing local jobs. Good for you - better than buying a Korean car.

You will have something unique.

1954 1/2 ton 235 4 speed
Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 1,837
He's not going to sign a contract to do that for the price quoted.
Every project I ever heard of went thousands over budget, and ran months behind. No, it's not a crime, and it's not fraud. If you're not happy with it you need a good lawer.
Are you going to be happy with it in "patina" (currently going out of fashion as indistinguishable from "just dragged out of the corn field")? If not, add $10K and a year for paint.

Joined: May 2005
Posts: 9,218
Sir Searchalot
Hello Chuck,
This is a really hard one to comment on. I feel your pain. I don't have an answer but just a few things to use for decisions.

1. The guys who have commented already have good ideas.
2. The basic concept of Stovebolt, and it's members, is DIY. Many have never gone to a shop. I have not. A few here have, with mixed experiences.
3. HOA's can be a real pain.
4. Don't use whether you will sell it for a profit or loss as a deciding factor. That factor is unknowable. The only possible profit is from a DIY build.
5. If you can't afford it, don't do it. If the feeling is there after a few days or a week, do it.
6. There is more than a 50/50 chance the estimate will go UP. That's what ALL estimates do. I know the guy is honest but you will become hostage to price and time.
7. The truck will be in the shop WAY longer than estimated.
8. The hot rod version of your truck will have a greater chance of becoming upsidedown than the restored or semi restored or driver version.
9. Renting a place is good only if you have all the equipment and tools there for some of the major mods you listed......and know how to do them, be there for shipments.
10. This type of mod rod can take some of us 3-5 years and more.
11. You told him "only want the basics done". You don't have any basics.
12. The price he gave is "reasonable".......but it's one of the reasons I don't use a shop.
13. I have PM'ed you a suggestion not suitable for Stovebolt community.

You list 4 project vehicles in your signature. Where are these stored? Can that place be used for DIY?

I thought Texas was the wide open spaces but I see San Antonio is pretty dense. Gotta go a ways out of town to get into the ranches and farms with possible buildings to use. I think right now I would reach out to local clubs in the area and meet and greet. Somebody will have a place or advice more atuned to that area. Maybe even a retired guy who would work on it and you could work with him at his place. Anyway just some food for thought. Sleep on it a few nights.

The paint and upholstery could push it to $45K ................Just trying to calm you down grin

When you call his price outrageous, I tend to agree. Even though it's a price which includes parts, shipping of parts, lots of labor, overhead and profit. But your comment and the fact you are having a shop install used stuff tells me you are on a budget and are not going to enjoy the shop gig. Like I would be, you are already stressed and at your limit of $$. So when the surprises he discovers, problems, increase in cost, excuses and time extension come, it will be too late. If I read all that into "outrageous", then that road is not for you at this time. Keep control of your truck. Farm it out a little, find that old retired guy, find a good place to work on it or buy one partially finished per my PM....and possibly reduce the modifications.

Martin is exactly right, your parts are over $13000. Right now there is an EXTREME shortage of all kinds of parts. Wait times are EXTREME. Inflation is looming. Many of those parts will be out of stock and have several months back order wait times. Shipping prices are increasing especially the heavy item freight rates.

So now I do have an answer. Buy a truck already done to the point you want. That is the definite answer. Cheaper, faster, known quality and workmanship, seeing what you are getting rust wise............ at a known and negotiable price. No tax. Bam!

Finding, traveling, inspecting and negotiating is the new task. Sell your 51 to recoup. Sounds like it's pretty rusted if you need a new floor. That alone is a supper labor cost.
I have actually thought it all thru for you in real time. I never cease to be amazed at myself. Awesome.

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Moderated by  Justhorsenround, KCMongo 

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